Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen, NY

Type Road Course
Configuration 11 Turns
Length 2.45 Miles
Characteristics Banking varies
Track Record Jeff Gordon, 124.580 mph (August 8, 2003)
Capacity Grandstand 36,871

Watkins Glen International

Click on image for a large view

Click here for numbered and annotated view

Problems At The Bus Stop

See, this is what I mean about turns numbering. So many ways to go about it and you can easily find them online. The NR2003 game and various sources put The Glen at eleven turns, giving the inner loop 4 turns. I've seen one where the inner loop is left completely out and the track is labeled as a 7-turn course. My thought is that it should be a turn anytime you have to physically turn the wheel to make a change in direction. Here's the inner loop with the conventional 4-turn numbering:

4-Turn Loop

I have a problem with this. It implies that you are making two left turns once you are inside the loop. You do no such thing in reality. Check out the next picture which is one view of an ideal driving line through the loop:

Inner loop driving line

As you can see you have to turn going into the loop but the whole chicane thing is about "straightening the road"; it's more about swerving than it is about turning. And if you watched the most recent races at Thunder Road you know I'm right--there were some outrageous passes and attempted passes taking place here.

You could make a case for calling this two turns. You bear right going in, pull left and cut the corner heading out and go directly into "The Loop":

2-Turn Inner Loop

This is the one that "feels" right to me. When you pull out of the inner loop you are not driving a short straight while you get ready for the outer loop--you are already at the loop and working your wheel.

But there is one more alternative. The compromising map purist in me wants to accept it and it looks more logical on paper:

3-Turn Inner Loop

So what to do? Should I ignore all conventions and go with my feelings or should I go with what looks right? Can I live with the guilt? I think I will just include the numbered version that I originally drew. You can always print the large view (sans numbers) and use your own numbering scheme.

Or maybe you just want to go with the Boris Said line:

Boris Said route through the loop

C'mon. He's got a sense of humor or 400 people wouldn't show up at The Glen wearing Boris wigs. We all know he's one of the best on the road tracks! He just happens to be the first driver that I witnessed cutting the loop in the Cup race. You have to admit though that it sure makes that whole turns numbering thing easier to stomach.

Radt Says:

Are ya done? Don't let me interrupt yer ramble. LK does have one thing right: when I pop out of the inner loop I'm still riding at 100 mph and I'm already into the big loop. For himself, he might as well stick with the four turns theory since he always falls below 90 in that sawed-off loop. He watched that Darrell Waltrip video so many times that I begged him to put Barney on. You know the video I'm talkin' about--the one where Darrell takes an easy ride and tells ya you should be able to do laps of 1:15 (117+ mph). LK just don't get it. He keeps runnin' laps and still can't get past 115.3. I'm gonna make a video and show him how to take a drink, eat some fries, flip off other drivers and talk on the radio, all while going into the first turn. That oughta confuse him real good.

See Also:

Watkins Glen International website